A PICK-UP WITH IN­CREASED COM­FORT

Mar­ket leader rings the changes and now of­fers a tough work­ing ve­hi­cle that will suit ev­ery­one

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE ANDY EN­RIGHT

IF you’re buy­ing a pick-up in the UK, then it’s highly likely you’ll be look­ing at Mit­subishi’s L200. This model has, af­ter all, his­tor­i­cally out-sold its ri­vals.

Its mar­ket lead­er­ship has much to do with the fact that this Ja­panese brand got its act to­gether faster than other con­tenders in this sec­tor, be­ing the first, back in the Nineties, to recog­nise that pick-up own­er­ship could be ex­tended be­yond farm­ers and job­bing builders into the SUV lifestyle seg­ment. As a re­sult, the orig­i­nal L200 model was al­lowed to take al­most half the Bri­tish mar­ket in this sec­tor be­fore its ri­vals caught up.

These days, this ve­hi­cle is far more so­phis­ti­cated — as it has to be in or­der to hold its own against a raft of tough ri­vals. This com­pletely re­designed ‘Se­ries 5’ ver­sion fea­tures a new chas­sis and en­gine pack­age that make this much more ac­com­plished ve­hi­cle.

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

There’s only so much you can do to make a pick-up en­joy­able to drive but Mit­subishi has made more ef­fort in this re­gard this time round, con­scious that any L200 is likely to spend the ma­jor­ity of its time on tar­mac. This Se­ries 5 ver­sion’s re­designed chas­sis is com­ple­mented by re-de­vel­oped sus­pen­sion, plus new shock ab­sorb­ing body mounts pro­vide a qui­eter, more com­fort­able cabin.

Thanks to the stiffer chas­sis (shared with Fiat), han­dling is im­proved and body roll, some­thing of a prob­lem in ve­hi­cles with higher cen­tres of grav­ity, should be kept to a min­i­mum. The new en­gine should im­press too. Not only is it 30kg lighter than the old 2.5-litre unit (aid­ing han­dling and ef­fi­ciency), it’s also more pow­er­ful and cleaner too.

With 178bhp and 430Nm of torque on-tap, the 2.4-litre MIVEC tur­bod­iesel unit pro­vides this im­proved L200 with best in class per­for­mance, the 0-62mph time re­duced by two sec­onds to 10.4s.

As be­fore, the L200 can be driven in ei­ther 2WD or 4WD on tar­mac or off road. This ve­hi­cle can also tow up to 4.1 tonnes. And there’s a seg­ment-lead­ingly tight turn­ing cir­cle too.

De­sign and Build

The ex­te­rior de­sign of this ‘Se­ries 5’ L200 model hasn’t changed hugely. More strik­ing and vi­brant ex­te­rior lines pro­ject a more com­mand­ing road pres­ence and typ­i­cal own­ers will like the mus­cu­lar, planted stance. Mit­subishi says that this ve­hi­cle’s ‘ath­leti­cism’ is ex­pressed through a taut ‘ belt line’. It’s cer­tainly true that some style has been added to ar­eas like the lights and the door han­dles to ac­cen­tu­ate the sleeker body.

The in­te­rior too, looks more classy and car-like — and it’s use­fully more spa­cious. Take a seat at the wheel and around you, you’ll find a driver-cen­tric dash­board that cen­tres at­ten­tion on the road and in­cludes much of the kind of im­por­tant equip­ment you’d ex­pect to see in a pre­mium car.

Most UK buy­ers will con­tinue to want the Dou­ble­cab bodystyle with its rear seat. Here, as be­fore, it’s noth­ing like as com­fort­able as it is in the front, but thanks to the chas­sis and sus­pen­sion changes too, it’ll be far more com­fort­able to ride in this part of the car over bumpy roads.

Mar­ket and Model

L200 pric­ing sits in the £20,000 to £24,000 bracket, which makes it com- pe­t­i­tive in its seg­ment. There are four dif­fer­ent spec­i­fi­ca­tions; the en­try-level 4Life ver­sion, the Ti­tan, the War­rior and the top-spec Bar­bar­ian model.

Trans­mis­sion-wise, there’s a choice of ei­ther a six-speed man­ual or a fivespeed au­to­matic with sport mode. If you go for the en­try-level 4Life vari­ant, bear in mind you’ll get an en­gine with a bit less power and torque, though it does of­fer an ex­tra few mpg as con­so­la­tion.

Onto equip­ment. Many mod­els come with fea­tures like dual-zone cli­mate con­trol and a satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem. As for safety, all vari­ants get Mit­subishi’s ‘RISE’ (Re­in­forced Im­pact Safety Evo­lu­tion) sys­tem, plus an on-board Ac­tive Sta­bil­ity & Trac­tion Con­trol set-up and seven airbags.

Practicalities & Costs

Mit­subishi have utilised high-ten­sile steel ex­ten­sively in the de­sign of this L200’s cargo bed and this al­lows it to have the largest car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity in the seg­ment with­out an in­crease in over­all size and weight.

The new, lighter en­gine was the first with an all-alu­minium de­sign and fea­tures lighter weight and a low com­pres­sion ra­tio for greater ef­fi­ciency. As a re­sult, Mit­subishi claims the L200 uses be­tween 11 and 47% less fuel than some of its com­peti­tors sug­gest­ing that the com­bined cy­cle econ­omy fig­ure will be some­where be­tween 39mpg and 44mpg.

The brand reck­ons this means that your L200 will be able to travel up to 685 miles on a sin­gle tank, which gives it the long­est range in its class.

Sum­mary

The ‘Se­ries 5’ model changes have im­proved this ve­hi­cle in all key ar­eas; per­for­mance, econ­omy, emis­sions and car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity. Of all the up­dates though, it’s the im­prove­ments to driv­ing dy­nam­ics that we reckon most po­ten­tial own­ers will no­tice most.

This ve­hi­cle was al­ways good off road. On-tar­mac though, like many pick-ups, it wasn’t that easy to live with. This latest gen­er­a­tion ver­sion is far bet­ter in this re­gard, of­fer­ing less body-roll, a more com­fort­able ride and bet­ter re­fine­ment.

As a re­sult, it’s eas­ier to en­vis­age as an only car if you need a tough work­ing ve­hi­cle for the week that can also trans­port the fam­ily around at week­ends.

True, an L200 isn’t as af­ford­able as it used to be, but many will feel the Se­ries 5 im­prove­ments make that a price worth pay­ing.

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